Two security men stood, their backs to the war zone, occasionally glancing at their phones and shifting from foot to foot. They exchanged a brief acknowledgment that I had approached the fence.
I didn’t expect any interaction – I photographed the bare, limbless pillars and the few remaining branches of freshly sprouting leaves; the lone figure chainsawing at height arranging his ropes and lowering severed branches… just doing his job.
The well of sorrow, the untapped reservoir that had filled during months of lockdown stuck behind a screen witnessing countless fellings, burst: “People cry for the Amazon because it’s being felled. People cried for Australia when the bushfires were burning. People cry for the orang-utans when they’re displaced by the palm-oil plantations. Who cries for England?”
In that moment I cried for England. I cried for the majestic trees mutilated in front of me, the hours of torture, stolen in the Spring as they burst into life. Cut down so pointlessly, so deliberately, so unnecessarily.
I remembered the men were listening. I told them, “These are beech 100 years old and more but further up the line they have taken oaks, so many of them properly mature, veterans 200-300 years old. They are cutting down thousands when the science says we need trees!”
I was so tense. I had watched the climbers earlier perched in the forks, slowly dismembering them one by one. I had sat down on an old tree stump and within seconds the whole woodland floor shook as a trunk crashed to the ground. I swore. It had totally taken me by surprise and it jarred me. How dare they shock me like that – now I was boiling over:
“I know we are planting trees but they are foot-high saplings!” I crouched to show the shortness, “Birds can’t nest in THAT! Bats can’t roost in it! Climate change means we have to stop this. I may never have grandchildren, the world may not support them, that will be a decision for my children. Mankind may not be here to see those little sticks grow into trees like these!”Tears streamed down my cheeks and soaked away into my mask, I sobbed and shook despairing at the helplessness of my words, pouring out the bitter pain from deep inside, while the work continued regardless.”
They call this progress – this isn’t anything like progress – this is destruction until there’s only a wasteland left”.
I was empty – my anger had dissipated – my grief was still overwhelming but the men weren’t to blame. I glanced from one to the other and I sympathized, “I know you need a job, but please, get a different one.”
And as I turned to walk away, catching my breath, one of them spoke very respectfully and simply said “Yes Madam”.
Images clicked on May 2021
#HS2BreaksMyHeart #StopFellingOurFuture #StopHS2 #JonesHillWood